I have often said Twitter is a odd place to be on the net. It is entertaining, scary, frustrating, perplexing and joyous all in one go. It is also like spitting into a sea of spit and trying to get your spittle noticed above everyone else’s. It just isn’t going to work without any great effort. Or so i thought.Yet you hear and read about people who have said stuff, expecting it to never get very far, yet managed to gather a fair shit storm around it.
I was sat on a public bus on my way home from work. When I overheard a conversation between two women, talking about how one of their children (I forget which woman’s child it was) had been “cyberbullied” by a group of people they didn’t know over a comment about them not liking Justin Bieber. Now I was sceptical about this at first. However I had my own brush with the bullies of the cyber realm when I got home.
I had innocently mentioned how I didn’t quite get the whole K-Pop scene. And what resulted was honestly disturbing. At first I found the initial exchanges between myself and two random strangers funny. After all here was two random people getting pissy because I didn’t get the fashion choices of some K-Pop artists. No biggy I figured as it will blow its self out after they got their tantrum out of the way. Then more people joined in triggered by the use of a hash tag to draw more people into the increasing debate. I still found it amusing that people were essentially getting involved in something without a clear view on the initial tweet that sparked this. What resulted from this was a bombardment of mentions from people who were now calling me names, calling for me to be banned, were actively trying to get me banned and telling me I should physically die from cancer and aids.
By this point it had progressed from been funny to mildly disturbing. These were people ranging from angst ridden teens to 20 somethings coming out with the most insane of comments over a simple innocent thing. The level to which some people sank was truly shocking. And I imagine most of the people involved won’t have even read what the initial tweet was.
While I am a thirty year old man I can ignore it and see it for what a feat of a pathetic show it was. However for a young person, who may take this to heart, I can see how a sudden influx of people commenting in such a negative way can seem overwhelming and distressing. Especially considering most of this will be pushed straight to their phones making it feel far more personal than it actually is.
What made me laugh about this whole episode was the simple fact that if this had been the real physical world, rather than some cyber domain, this exchange would probably have never happened. Sure there might have been some words said. But it would have not descended to the level it did. In fact it probably wouldn’t have even gained any response at all. But this is the world of Twitter where a simple hash tag can cause so much trouble.